Learn how to safely give your baby a dilute bleach bath, to soothe their eczema and cut down on skin bacteria.
A bleach bath (also called a dilute bleach bath) is a special kind of bath for eczema babies. It helps cut down on the numbers of bacteria on baby’s skin, and reduces the chances that your baby’s eczema will get infected.
When you give baby a bleach bath, it helps clean off harmful bacteria that may make your baby’s eczema worse, including staphylococcus aureus (the bacteria that leads to staph infections). But the benefits don’t stop there. According to recent research cited by the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), bleach baths may also directly stop eczema flares, in addition to cutting down on eczema-worsening bacteria.
With a bleach bath, a small amount of bleach is diluted in baby’s warm water bath. A bath with this small amount of bleach is actually gentler than the water in a public swimming pool. And even if baby has open skin from an eczema flare, this diluted bleach usually won’t sting.
Your dermatologist may recommend adding bleach baths to your baby’s eczema care routine if your baby is prone to eczema flare-ups.
Here is your step-by-step guide to giving your baby a bleach bath, to help soothe their eczema.
For a visual guide to giving baby a bleach bath, please watch this video from the American Academy of Dermatology:
1. Only give your baby a bleach bath after talking to your dermatologist.
Follow any directions your dermatologist gives when preparing a bleach bath.
2. Prepare the supplies for the bleach bath.
To give your baby a bleach bath, you will need regular-strength bleach (not concentrated bleach) that is unscented. Regular-strength bleach is usually 6% sodium hypochlorite.
You will also need a measuring teaspoon or cup, a washcloth, a towel, and baby’s moisturizer for after the bath.
3. Wash and dry your hands before starting the bleach bath process.
This way, you won’t introduce bacteria or irritants to baby’s skin during the bath.
4. Carefully measure out the right amount of bleach for the bath, using a measuring cup or spoon.
According to the AAD, if you use a baby or toddler tub for the bleach bath, you should add one teaspoon of bleach for every gallon of water in the tub.
(Using a bucket with measuring lines to fill the tub with water may help you know how much bleach you will need to add. It may also help to mark the line you filled the tub up to with a piece of tape, and then write down the amount of water you used on the tape, along with the right amount of bleach for that water level.)
If you use a standard bathtub filled halfway up with water, you will need to add ¼ cup of bleach.
Adding too little bleach may not help soothe baby’s eczema, but adding too much could irritate baby’s skin.
Start to run a bath with warm water (not hot water) before pouring in the measured bleach. Then, pour the bleach into the water as the tub is filling up.
5. Only place baby in the tub once the tub is filled and the bleach is mixed in.
This way, you’ll ensure that the bleach is fully diluted. Never apply undiluted bleach directly to baby’s eczema.
6. Bathe baby in the bleach bath.
Make sure plenty of bleach water gets on baby’s hands and feet, because these are areas where bacteria is more likely to grow.
Also, use a washcloth to gently apply the bleach water to baby’s face, head and neck, and any other areas that don’t soak directly in the water. These areas will benefit from the bleach water, even though they might not soak directly in it. Be careful not to get any bleach water in baby’s eyes, though.
If your baby has crusty eczema areas, gently clean around the crusty areas with the washcloth to try and remove the crusts. Do this after you’ve finished washing baby’s head and neck with the washcloth.
7. Let your baby soak in the tub.
Follow your dermatologist’s recommendations for how long baby should soak. According to the AAD, most dermatologists recommend having baby soak for 5 to 10 minutes in a bleach bath.
Do not rinse baby off after they soak.
8. Pat baby dry after the bath.
Just like with all baby eczema baths, pat baby dry with a towel so some moisture remains on the skin. Then, apply moisturizer within 3 minutes after the bath, to seal the moisture into baby’s skin.
(If your dermatologist has prescribed a topical steroid or other eczema treatment, apply that after drying, but before moisturizing.)
9. Repeat the bleach bath process as directed.
Bleach baths aren’t meant to work right away. Rather, they’re meant as an ongoing treatment. Bathe baby in the bleach bath 2-3 times per week, or as directed by your dermatologist.
Remember: Only start bleach bath therapy after your dermatologist says it’s okay to start.
All health-related content on this website is for informational purposes only and does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the advice of your own pediatrician in connection with any questions regarding your baby’s health.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.